Belfast Telegraph

Chaotic scenes at Irish parliament as water charge protesters stage a sit-down protest

Alan Shatter brands water protesters 'fascists'

Protesters demonstrating against water charges in the Republic have staged a sit-down protest at Leinster House in Dublin.

The protest was called by the Non-Payment Network, which is demanding a boycott of Irish Water bills.

The organisers said the protest was a response to the Irish government rushing further water charges legislation through the Dáil this week.

The Republic's Environment Minister Alan Kelly has introduced a number of amendments to the Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.

These include setting up a database for the water conservation grant and the blocking of a house sale until water charges are paid.  The law, which is now being finalised, will also oblige local authority tenants to pay their water charges.

Members of the Irish parliament claim they were abused and threatened as they tried to exit the premises.

At least one garda officer was injured and received medical treatment after she was hit by a missile.

Gardaí have confirmed that two arrests were made.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is to be asked to appear in Leinster House explain the garda operation that was put in place.

TDs have been critical of the decision not to place railings around the entrance to Leinster House as is the norm during large protests.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter was blocked in his car for up to 15 minute as he tried to get into the Dáil. There was a standoff between some of the demonstrators and gardai who had called for reinforcements and some 40 officers were on duty.

Mr Shatter claimed that TDs and senators were stopped from entering leaving Leinster House in their vehicles as is their constitutional right to do so.

“To allow this sort out conduct and to regard is as acceptable is step on the road to fascism,” he added.

Speaking during the Dáil debate, Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger asked that Mr Shatter withdraw his description of of the protesters as "fascists".

Ms Coppinger's request was rejected as Mr Shatter's remarks did not refer to anyone in the House.

Irish Independent

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